Submitted to Boxing News 24, posted here in advance
Kingsley “The Black Lion” Ibeh a Nigerian born heavyweight fighting out of Phoenix, Arizona opened ESPN’s boxing from The Bubble at MGM Grand in Las Vegas with a fourth round technical knockout. ESPN has continued to broadcast full fight cards during the sport’s return from the Covid-19 shutdown. This has provided young fighters who would normally not get TV exposure some air time. In recent cards Clay Collard scored an impressive upset decision win as did Helaman Olguin with both beating undefeated prospects. Ibeh, a twenty six year old former collegiate football player advanced his record to 4-1 with four knockouts. Tonight he defeated Waldo Cortes to avenge his only defeat when they first met last October. Ibeh fought twice since their initial meeting scoring two first round stoppages and shedding six pounds for their rematch.
Ibeh is a converted defensive end who stands 6’4 and weighed in at 286 pounds. After playing for Washburn University he made a Canadian Football roster with the Stampeders in 2017 before turning professional as a boxer in August of last year. Before Covid-19 he was fighting regularly at a pace of one fight every two months even after his initial split decision loss to Cortes. According to the ESPN broadcast he got turned on to boxing while selling insurance and having a sales call with the local gym owner change his career path. Tonight he got a boost by scoring an exciting stoppage for a TV audience. Ibeh started the fight by aggressively charging out of his corner and bringing fight directly to Cortes. He promised that he would not go to the judges tonight and he started the fight with bad intentions.
Ibeh fought out of both an orthodox and southpaw stance which provided him opportunities to mix up his offense and attack from different angles. In the second round Ibeh attacked again out of his southpaw stance by jabbing his way in. Once inside he was looking for his left uppercut to target the head of his opponent from in close. Ibeh did leave his chin exposed in his bursts of aggression and was caught by an overhand right to the head from Cortes. Cortes caught Ibeh when they had space with a right cross. Ibeh’s mouth began to open as he was breathing heavily in the second round and was caught by a hard counter that lifted his foot off the canvas. The third round began like the first two with Ibeh charging out to meet Cortes but this time he was calm after about thirty seconds of work. It seemed like he was gassing in there as the middle of the round was spent at range with each measuring up their opponent. In the final minute of the round Ibeh unleashed an attack but it was predictable from the outside and Cortez alternated his elbows and forearms left then right and right again to block the hooks directed at his head. Cortes seemed to see the attacks coming and was fending them off impressively.
Ibeh scored his technical knockout at 1:41 of the fourth round. He was able to get Cortes’s back to the ropes and tied him up with his right arm wrapped around his head. From there Ibeh threw repeated left uppercuts reminiscent of a hockey fight and rocked Cortes. They came off the ropes and Ibeh landed a hard right uppercut and alternated his hands in a finishing sequence that dropped Cortes on the canvas. Cortes got to a knee as referee Vic Drakulich began to count and though Cortes was looking down it was clear that he was in trouble. Cortes got to his feet at the count of nine but Drakulich had seen enough and waved off the contest. Ibeh was aggressive, hard hitting, and switched stances well. He did not ignore his jab and had a nice mix of punches. He has some areas for development but he is young and still moving along. ESPN is bringing back Jared Anderson, Robeisy Ramirez, and Guido Vianello in July and possibly Ibeh could be returned as well. Finally, Nigeria has produced plenty of successful heavyweights over the years from former WBC Champion Samuel Peter to current prospect Efe Ajagba and the hardcore fan favorite Ike Ibeabuchi and it would be nice to have an addition to the tradition.